2016 INTRO: DE Chidi Okonya

One of the top defensive ends in the Southeast is planning on deciding early and the Blue Devils have put themselves in a strong position. Here’s the latest on the three star prospect.

Measuring out at 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds with a 4.8 forty yard dash, Riverdale (Ga.) High stand out Chidi Okonya has the measurables to play any number of positions at the college level. And, depending on the school, his future projections vary.

“I am primarily a defensive end, but I’ve had in-game opportunities to play defensive tackle and tight end. Some schools are recruiting me to play defensive end, but others have me as a standup end or an outside linebacker.”

Currently Scout.com rates Okonya as the No. 30 defensive end in the country and a high three star prospect.

“He’s along and rangy rush end who could be recruited as a stand-up linebacker,” said National Recruiting Analyst Chad Simmons. “Okonya is a very fluid and athletic on the edge with good speed to the ball. Still light, so he needs to add weight/strength to his frame, and get better at the point of attack. Best as a pass rusher right now. Needs to work on hands, using his length, and disengaging. Good off the ball, flexible, and should be a top prospect in Georgia.”

Okonya’s self-evaluation seems to fall in-line with Scout’s.

“My biggest strength would be my length as it relates to my ability to cover ground fast and extend my arms. When I play to my strengths, offensive lineman have trouble getting hands on me. I definitely need to refine my game in relation to ball get off, and getting off blocks.”

Prior to the start of his junior season Okonya spent his summer focusing on several areas of his game, looking to become a more complete player. And, from his perspective, the work has paid off.

“I'm using my hands a lot more than the previous year, and I find myself in better position to make plays. I’m using my arm length as an advantage this year.”

The production has increased, but the prospect says there’s a long way to go in his game’s development.

“Overall I'm being more in tune with my own body, but there's so much room for improvement and I mean that as a good thing. I believe I am no where near as close to being as good as I can be, but I will focus on the use of violent hands and foot work for the most part.”

On the recruiting front Okonya has offers from Duke, Georgia, Miami, Mississippi, Cincinnati, Clemson, Minnesota, Mississippi State, NC State, Penn State, Tennessee, Wake Forest, and Virginia. And he’s taken a few visits as well.

“I’ve take unofficial visits to Duke, Georgia, Clemson, and Georgia Tech, and I’m in regular contact with Duke, Georgia, Ole Miss, and Miami. I would like to visit Stanford and Miami as well.”

When it comes to decision making, Okonya has a set criteria that’ll used to evaluate each program.

“I'm always looking for academics that fit what I am pursuing, but location isn't much of a problem. And, when I'm picking a school, I don't plan on choosing it because of coaches. Things change but that's just the business part of it. I plan to sell myself to a school, and use the school as it uses me.”

Duke was among the first schools to offer a scholarship, and the Blue Devils have continued to stay in front of the process.

“I have spoken with a good bit of the coaching staff including Coach Jones, Coach Petri, Coach McGrath, Coach Guerrieri, and Coach Cutcliffe. The coaches have been nothing but honest with me through the time they’ve recruited me, and they have good reason to do that considering they are selling a school like Duke.”

And while the Blue Devils have pitched the idea of elite academics, there’s also the matter of the coaches having turned around the program.

“That has definitely been mentioned by a couple of the coaches I've spoken with, and it is still visible in their season this year. They've been preforming fairly well, and I like the way their program is headed. We'll just see how everything plays itself out.”

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